"Ignorance isn't only for deep things." -Dragon Lady
Question #49919 posted on 01/29/2009 3:01 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I've got a dilemma I'm hoping you can help with. I will graduate in April with a degree in accounting and I'm currently applying for jobs in the Salt Lake area. My husband and I will probably try to start a family in the next few months, and I hope to work as long as I can through my pregnancy and then quit so I can spend all my time taking care of our baby. (I would consider possibly working up to maybe 10 hours per week, either soon after the baby, or maybe not for several years.)

My problem is that most interviewers ask something like, "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" Since I plan to not be working much if at all in 5 years, I don't know how I can honestly answer that question without destroying all hopes of getting the job. Something like, "I plan to be doing my best and working hard" seems way too vague, and something like, "I plan to be focusing on raising a family, but I'd certainly consider working for you part-time" seems like it would almost certainly cause them to not give me the job.

What can I say that is ethical and won't stop me from getting a job? Also, if the issue doesn't come up, do you think I have any ethical obligation to tell them I don't plan to work there very long anyway?

Thank you,
Trying to be ethical

A: Dear Trying ~

Wow, I know exactly how you feel. I was lucky, though, and work for the Church, so when I was asked that question I could say, "Well, ideally I'll be raising a family, but on my current course, I would like to be _____." It also helped that I was single.

I would suggest saying something to the effect of, "Whenever I make plans like that, I end up somewhere else usually better for me, so it's hard to give specifics. However, I hope that in the next 5 years I plan on working hard enough to put me in the best possible place for myself." Or something to that effect. I advise straying away from details and giving something general.

Also, legally you have no obligation to tell a future or current employer that you are intending to start a family. It is also illegal for an employer to discriminate based on that fact. It's up to you to decide if you feel comfortable applying for a job without disclosing that information.

~ Dragon Lady
A: Dear Trying to be ethical,

Just to add to Dragon Lady's last paragraph, let me pass on words of wisdom given to me as I interviewed for my first "real" job: As soon as you accept a job, it is implied that you will quit. Whether it is within a year or all the way to retirement it doesn't matter and your employer cannot discriminate against you. There's nothing wrong with saying general things (like you hope to be a leader) but there is a lot wrong in saying misleading things. Do what you feel most comfortable with. It's hard...I was in your same situation a month ago...just remember, as much as you want to plan everything out it can change on a dime. You need to live in the present to prepare for the future.

- steen